CuteUino: Only Use The Parts Of The Arduino That You Need For Each Project


[Fran’s] been working on her own version of the Arduino. She calls it CuteUino for obvious reasons. The size of the thing is pretty remarkable, fitting within the outline of an SD card. But that doesn’t mean you won’t get the power that you’re used to with the device. She’s broken it up into several modules so you can choose only the components that you need for the project.

The main board is shown on the right, both top and bottom. It sports the ATmega328p (it’s hard to believe we could make out the label on the chip package in the clip after the break) in a TQFP-32 package soldered to the underside of what she calls the Brain Module. You can also see the extra long pins which stick through from the female pin headers mounted on the top side of the board. Inside of these pin headers you’ll find the clock crystal, status LEDs, and a capacitor. The other module is an FTDI board used to connect the AVR chip to a USB port.

You’ll definitely want to check out her prototyping post for this project. She uses a very interesting technique of combining two single-sided boards to make a 3-layer PCB. The side that was not copper clad is fitted with copper foil by hand to act as a ground plane for the vias. Neat!

[Thanks Daniel]

38 thoughts on “CuteUino: Only Use The Parts Of The Arduino That You Need For Each Project

  1. i can see how you can make it a teeeency bit smaller or even use a USB avr
    BUT thats nitpicking and her work is very impressive! and hand soldered!
    for me size has not mattered to the point where a deadbugged atmega wont do but i can see its uses!

    1. Please, stop. This “tool” or “special tutorial” are just really stupid and it just scare people from using SMD parts.

      >Ever try to hand solder SOT sized parts?
      Yes and it is really easy. When I started with electronics TQFP and SOT packages was in my first project. I was able to solder it after few hours of training with $10 equipment from DX. There is nothing magical or special about SMD parts.

      If you can see the pad with naked eye, you can hand solder it!
      (no super skill or super-duper equipment required)

      1. It doesn’t scare people, your reaction to it is overhyping the point of it. The “tool” is just so you can have your hand free. It’s no different than using a set of tweezers to hold it down. Heaven forbid if somebody wants to use tweezers to help solder an SMD. BLASPHEMY!

    2. Hand soldering SOT-23 is easy. Just put a bit of solder on one of the pads. Pick up the component with some decent tweezers. Melt the solder and stick the component in. If the part isn’t nice and straight, melt the solder again, and adjust. When you’re happy with the position, solder down the other two leads.

      If you start with the side that has the single pins, it’s almost impossible to screw it up.

    1. Good to see they get their shit together and are now producing them, after the femtoduino was only a blogpost for over a year. But 18$? And when I choose 8 pieces the price lowers to 18$/pcs. What business-school did he attended?

      I don’t know. I will wait for cheap knockoffs. 18$ is to much just for a (really) small shield.

    1. 9V tolerance isn’t an industry standard (or consensus) – it would benefit only a few. On-chip DC-DC is available on the ATTiny43U, but you’ll rarely see it in the wild. On-chip crystals are common but only for low F, higher F is RC but unstable.

      On-chip LEDs with a glass dome are a different issue: Silicon junctions are sensitive to light, especially IR, and having a light source near your logic screws with leakage currents, noise immunity and registry contents.

      It’s not that it’s pointless, it becomes very specific in use-case. Manufacturers want to target a broad market so they keep the specs general purpose. Developers on their side want to waste as little money as possible on unnecessary features. You see this when you need a tiny bit of extra RAM or flash on board: everything else tends to scale up (pin count, extra hardware features and cost) because the extra RAM/Flash takes up the bulk of the real estate and requires extra addressing logic. This in turn justifies a few extra features that add little overhead compared to what the extra control logic adds for the increased RAM/Flash.

      1. What I was thinking was a single narrow DIP package marked “Arduino” that wires up to any existing Shields and boards that works just like the current Arduino boards. And I thought it’s possible with existing technology like multi-chip packaging, aside manufacturing costs and commercial considerations. As you’ve pointed out, there wouldn’t be a huge market for it. The story should be entirely different if Arduinos were selling maybe quarter million every year, but that’s not the case…

        I didn’t know LEDs would mess up bare chips, but that’s the very reason why EPROMs had transparent windows I mentioned…to wipe them clean with UV light! I have no idea why I didn’t think of it :)

  2. So, is any Atmel chip board now a ‘…uino’? I thought (naively) that ‘…uino’ would refer to something that can at least take the expansion boards, ie have the same socket layout. Or does it mean anything that can take code compiled under the Arduino IDE (which should be any system with any chip that has gcc…)

    1. See the thing is: I dont know what you’re talking about. Thats why I use an Arduino. If something is an *uino, I can be sure, that I can buy it and work with it. You might have a brighter knowledge and know how to access a chip by itself and of course you have to add a crystal to leg X and Y and you need a resistor going from A to B… etc pp. I dont know this. Thats why I choose the *uino Platforms until I know better. And my first step into this direction is that I will now google GCC.

      1. Forget GCC. The next steps for you are:
        1. AVR Studio. Reserve 8 hours over the course of a week(end) to follow tutorials and you’re off
        2. avrdude. It’s the programmer bundled with the Arduino IDE and learn how to use it to flash your hex from the prompt.

  3. So, it’s a proper AVR breakout board with an arduino compatible programmer.

    I find it very strange that Arduino themselves didn’t do this when they went over to USB, make a small simple breakout board and have the USB part as a separate module that plugs in. It would mean you could get several AVR boards very cheap and only get one programming module. It doesn’t need to be integrated.

    I had ideas to build something like this back in 2008, but i skipped the whole arduino part and went straight to USBasp and plain AVR-GCC. Had i built it i would have called it a BrokenDuino and had a header holding the two parts together…

  4. This reminds me of why I use PICs

    Internal osc on most parts I use: check

    Parts with different pin counts for scaling to my designs: check

    Built in hardware PWM on most parts I use: check

    Built in ADCs: check

    Wide VCC range 2.7-5.5V in most cases: check

    No library craziness with code that I didn’t write to use as a crutch that was probably poorly written to begin with, forcing me to think for myself, improving my own coding skill: check

    No wonky shield footprint, again making for better scaling: check

    No extra parts on the board that i don’t need and therefore don’t have to pay for, knowing they are just sitting there, wasting space and power, yet if I want those parts, I can add them myself to my own design: check

    No lame bloatloader crutch: check

    Bottom line: scalability! hundreds of different parts that will for the most part run the same exact code across all of them with a few minor tweeks and I write my own code which keeps me away from the #1 problem with open source libraries: revision/dependency hell…

    1. I’m pretty sure you just described about a 80% of the microcontroller market, including AVR. Arduino is just a bootloader and ide, the AVR itself has everything you describe and you can just erase the bootloader and have a 30 dollar AVR devboard. Auto-PIC loyalty is just ignorance in disguise, just as Auto loyalty to any micro is.

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